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An exhibit at the Dallas H.O.P.E. Health Center goes on display to raise awareness around HIV/AIDS

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It’s been 40 years since the first case of AIDS was documented in the U.S. Today,  there are approximately 1.2 million people who live with HIV and AIDS

H.O.P.E. Health Center in Dallas has chosen art to commemorate the four decades of fighting back against the disease and to remind the public about the importance of health education.

At the Hope Health Center entrance, life-sized cut-outs greet guests upon entering. Photo credit: Solomon Wilson.

World AIDS Day is observed each year on Dec. 1.  The nonprofit organization, Abounding Prosperity, is honoring the anniversary with more than 60 life-size cutouts of faceless people,  speckled in red dots, positioned throughout the parking lot and fence at Hope Health Center in Dallas. 

Executive Director and Abounding Prosperity COO Tamera Stephney says her group is trying to shine a light on the health disparities among black men and their families in Dallas; and to break stigmas in the Black community by targeting “these barriers, and creat(ing) a space and a way that people can have access to care and have access to the services that they need.”  She says it’s never too late to get educated.

“We need people to come in and get educated to dispel any myths around HIV.”

The cutouts are part of “Legacy of Lives Lost,” an exhibit that honors those affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“With this exhibit we want everybody to see how far we’ve come, and not forget where we were 40 years ago,” Stephney said.

Hope Health Center honors lives lost to HIV/AIDS with cut-outs placed across the parking lot. Photo credit: Solomon Wilson.

Corey Willis started out as a volunteer with Abounding Prosperity and is now a full time lead health counselor.  He recalls his humble beginnings included a lot of tough love. 

“It’s been tough in a good way, because they make you tap into what you think you couldn’t do.”

Now Willis is able to guide others on their own sexual health journey, something he had to learn on his own.  

“To me that visual represents what used to be, and what we are going into. I hope for them to understand that HIV is not a death sentence, and that you can live a life by taking one pill a day,” he said.

Treatment for HIV/AIDS has evolved over the years by providing multiple treatment options to stop the disease from spreading throughout the body. Once difficult to obtain, the treatment pill is now mostly free to the public and in the process of rehabilitating many lives.   

Abounding Prosperity Inc. and the Hope Health Center act as a swiss army knife of resources for the community.  Anyone now can access treatments ranging from housing and medical assistance, to transitional therapy and medication. 

The art installation will be on display until Friday Dec. 3 and is open to the public. 

Got a tip? Email Solomon Wilson at swilson@kera.org. You can follow Solomon on Twitter @SolomonSeesIt.

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